Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
Being a Historical Exploration of the Creation and Reception of the
Third Book of the Chronicles of Narnia

Biography of C. S. Lewis | Bibliographic Description of Original Text | Publication History
Contemporaneous Reception of Text | Critical Evaluative Essay | Home Page


First Edition publication information:

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was first published 1 September 1952 in London by Geoffrey Bles. First American edition published 30 September 1952 in New York by Macmillan. It was released as a cloth-bound book. A paperback edition was not released until 1965 in England and 1970 in the United States.


First edition cover art:

 First Edition


First American edition cover:

American First Edition

1964 Fifth Printing Cover

5th Printing

Both first edition covers featured the same art by Pauline Baynes, although it has been colored differently for the American edition. While newer covers refer to this as the Third (or Fifth after 1994) Book in the Chronicles of Narnia, the original cover makes no reference to Narnia. The fifth printing cover has one of Pauline Baynes's illustrations of Reepicheep the Mouse, rather than the Dawn Treader sailing. This is perhaps in response to the popularity of Reepicheep. The British first edition featured an illustration of Reepicheep along the spine. The fifth printing has no art on the spine. It also no longer has the phrase "A Story for Children" on the cover.


First editions of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are highly collectible and sell for hundreds of dollars at rare book stores. It has been difficult tracking down a first edition of this book, partly because the book is so valuable. Also, many editions of the book that are not first editions are nonetheless cataloged as having been published in 1952. I have discussed this problem with Sue Searing and with Alvan Bregman from UIUC’s Rare Books Room and they have confirmed that short of visiting every library in the World Cat system and physically looking at their copy of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it is impossible to tell which of these books listed as a 1952 edition might actually be from 1952. To prepare this report I have used a copy belonging to Professor Christine Jenkins, a fifth printing from 1964. I have also used the websites of rare book stores to find cover art for the actual first edition, and have corresponded with an archivist at the Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College to get descriptions of the British and American first editions.


The first British edition has 223 pages. The first American edition has 210 pages. Lewis made some changes for the American edition, which may account for some of the difference in page numbers. However, the changes made by Lewis were fairly minor and some of the difference may be attributed to page layout or font size. The fifth printing has [iv] pre-paginated pages (title page, an illustration of the Dawn Treader, publication information, dedication, and table of contents), followed by 210 numbered pages.


 The first edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was not edited or introduced by anyone. It was dedicated to Geoffrey Barfield, the adopted son of Lewis’s friend Owen Barfield. Except for The Last Battle (which has no public dedication), all of the Narnia books are dedicated to children known by Lewis.



The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, who illustrated all of the Narnia books. There is at least one illustration in each of the 16 chapters and sometimes more.

 Sample illustration:


Dawn Treader illustration


General appearance

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is printed in Baskerville. The print is about 2.5 millimeters high. It looks a little larger than the average font size for an adult fiction book, but smaller than the font for a standard children’s book.  The top of every left-hand page says The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” and the top of every right-hand page has the chapter title in italics. Overall, the pages look clean and attractive.  The black and white line art is printed crisply. The book is 20 centimeters tall by 14 centimeters wide.

Image of sample page

Sample Pages

The copy of the fifth printing I examined has high-quality paper that has held up well. It has very slightly yellowed with time.

Description of binding
The British first edition was bound in sky-blue cloth with silver imprint. The American first edition was bound in blue-grey cloth with blue imprint. The fifth printing was bound in blue cloth with black imprint, featuring a small image of the Dawn Treader sailing with Reepicheep at the bow. The spine has become discolored in places.

Fifth Printing Cover Binding
5th printing cover


Title page
Title Page

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
By C. S. Lewis





All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher.

                Fifth Printing 1964


Dedication page
Geoffrey Barfield



According to Martha Sammons, “very few original manuscripts of the original Narnia tales exist—only some fragments” (24). No original fragment of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader appears to have survived. The Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College has a large collection of C. S. Lewis’s papers and manuscripts, including some fragments of The Silver Chair. The Bodleian Library at Oxford also has a collection of C. S. Lewis’s papers, including photocopies of Wheaton College’s collection.

Jacket copy, inscription, etc.
Back jacket cover of the 1964 fifth printing:

author of The Screwtape Letters

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. Since 1925 he has been Fellow and Tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he lectures on English Literature. His popular novel The Screwtape Letters brought him wide acclaim in America an established a cult of admirers who spread the good word about his other novels--The Great Divorce, Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous Strength, and Perelandra. Of his books for children, the New York Herald-Tribune has said, "The devoted adult audience of this distinguished English author gave their children his first book about the magic land of Narnia. Then discriminating young fairy tale fans begane to discover them without adult help. Now we are apt to hear visitors to our own book room say: 'Oh, those Narnia books are tops--the only really good modern fairy tales.'"

COMMENTS ON The Voyage of the "Dawn Trader"
Those who are not familiar with the land of Narnia to which C. S. Lewis has taken us in previous books will want to know more about it after reading this beautifully written, highly imaginative tale."

". . . constitutes a juvenile odyssey that in excitement and beauty surpasses even the preceeding volumes."
--The New Yorker

"Any child who can read this or any family who reads this aloud will have had a happy experience. Not necessary to have read the previous books. . . ."
--The Library Journal

"As in many other of Mr. Lewis' books, one finds a strong poetic sense and awareness of the loveliness and mystery of a universe which cannot be wholly grasped by common sense."
--The New York Times

Front inside flap copy
How King Caspian sailed trhough magic waters to the End of the World.

Two English children, Lucy and Edmund, are off again on another fantastic adventure--this time aboard King Caspian's ship. They are reunited with the swashbuckling mouse, Reepicheep; the dwarf, Trumpkin; and many other friends from previous trips to Narnia. With their peevish cousin Eustace accompanying them, they sail through transparent seas, past islands where bad dreams come true, to a land inhabited by comic little Monopods, and just escape being destroyed by a strange sea monster. This is Eustace's first trip to Narnia, and his selfish behavior and skepticism about magic causes him to be temporarily transformed into a green dragon. But all turns out well when they reach the End of the World--and even Eustace becomes a loyal patriot of Narnia.
The imaginative land of Narnia has become a real country to many young readers. Pauline Baynes'  beautiful line drawings capture the magic seas and fantastic islands.


Back inside flap copy
Readers may enter the magical land of Narnia for the first time with any one of these books.

BOOK 1: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
How Aslan, the noble lion, freed Narnia from the spell of the White Witch.

BOOK 2: Prince Caspian
How good Prince Caspian and his army of Talking Beasts conquered the Telmarines.

BOOK 4: The Silver Chair
How captive Prince Rilian escaped from the Emerald Witch's underground kingdom.

BOOK 5: The Horse and His Boy
How a talking horse and a boy prince saved Narnia from invasion.

BOOK 6: The Magician's Nephew
How Aslan created Narnia and gave the gift of speech to its animals.

BOOK 7: The Last Battle
How evil came to Narnia and Aslan led his people to a glorious new paradise.

60 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, N. Y.

Jacket design by The Strimbans

Works Cited
  • AbeBooks, Inc. Web. 6 October 2010.
  • Como, James T. Remembering C.S. Lewis: Recollections of Those Who Knew Him. San Francisco: St. Ignatius Press, 2005.
  • Ford, Paul. Companion to Narnia. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980.
  • Lewis, C. S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: Macmillan, 1964.
  • Sammons, Martha. A Guide Through Narnia. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2004.
  • Schmidt, Laura. Archivist at Marion Wade Center. “RE: Narnia First Editions.” Email sent to Renata Sancken, 8 October 2010.
  • Wheaton College. Marion E. Wade Center Home Page. Web. 5 October 2010.
  • Wagner, Richard. C.S. Lewis and Narnia For Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, 2005.